Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)
TITLE: A Kiss
By Lisa Holloway
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But the kiss was dead, and James was gone. He could never want her...now. Her childhood friend was gone; she had this to bear alone—all of it, including the baby no one could see yet.
Amy wanted to bury herself in the dank, fishy aroma of the brown river, away from the heady scent of honeysuckle that clung to everything, and reminded her of what had happened. She couldn’t smell it without feeling again the hand of the man pulling her into their depths, his black-velvet voice coaxing her, making her trust him—then vines pressing into her back, a whispered “No” that barely existed, and over everything, the sweetness of the honeysuckle in that spot past the trees where no one could see them as he killed the innocent places she had kept in spite of everything hard in her life, knowing she could not recreate them once surrendered.
The tears had stopped. She had blocked them behind a wall that protected her these last couple of months, but made her dead inside. She imagined sinking below the ripples, and staring past the fish in an unfeeling sleep. She idly clawed at her wrist, scraping through the skin, wondering what it would be like to go deeper into the pulsing red.
Instead, she dropped her arms to her sides, heat-drenched water lapping at her ankles as she stared across at a sunset God had made, knowing that it wasn’t for her.
She remembered all the things she had done in the past: bad things no one knew about, hates she had cherished, illicit passions she had played out in her mind behind a veil of purity, the child she had hit in frustration because he wouldn’t stop crying, the self-righteous resentments toward a sister who had stolen her inheritance and lied, giving Amy the excuse to put herself on a pedestal as injured and above criticism. More.
All the judgments she had made, growing colder as she convinced herself that she was righteous, paying lip-service to the all-are-sinners doctrine—saying that she needed God, but never surrendering because her will was strong, and because of it, she was able to play at “being good” better than most. She had never really believed that her righteousness was “as filthy rags”—not when everyone around her seemed worse.
Now the illusion was shattered, and she knew that with the ugliness laid bare, nobody could want her. They’d always said God could, that He’d sacrificed His Son to save people like her, but she could not believe in what she had not seen and touched, or been touched by, and no one—not even loving parents—could truly and from the depths of their souls, love someone who did all those things. Once everyone knew what had happened, knew who she really was, they would all reject her. Already there were rumors around town, and knowing glances as she passed.
James had not wanted to believe any of it. She ached thinking of the mismatched pairing of smirking lips and wounded eyes that day as he walked away, leaving her to the hand of the man who claimed her, but did not love her. That man despised her, knowing how she had held to him, so afraid of rejection when her tears of grief and pummeling fists failed to move him.
She sat on the moist clay of the riverbank, watching the sunset that was not for her. Then silently, suddenly, James was beside her, his work-roughened hands holding hers, lifting them for another kiss as he looked into her eyes with love and sorrow, loving her beyond their situation and their pain. And in that moment of unquestioning compassion, the walls came down, and she knew that love was real in heaven and earth.
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